We are excited to announce some great upgrades to our courses for VMM 2023. We have the new ultra distance of 50k, plus more trail and gain for the 70k and 100k. There is also a new Sapa town start for the 100k. Here our Race Director, David Lloyd, explains some of the updates.
This year we say goodbye to the 42k distance and introduce the VMM 50k. This will give many runners a chance to step up to their first ultra distance, while also giving seasoned ultra runners the opportunity to run a shorter course.
The first major change compared to the old 42k is that this race will start in the heart of Sapa town.
Soon after the start, you will climb out of town, then descend into an incredibly beautiful valley. When we first researched this section, we were amazed by the trail quality and the rugged, remote feeling we got this close to Sapa. You’ll have to earn the beauty however, because after the descent you’ll face a steep climb via the Hmong village of Suoi Ho.
Next comes a new, steady climb up to a classic highlight of VMM – Cow Mountain (Nui Bo). We love this new route to the peak; it takes runners through a huge variety of trail, across steep grass fields and up through forests before emerging onto the famous single track ridge line to Cow Mountain at around 2,300m.
The awesome descent to CP4 remains unchanged, then the riverside and forest trails to CP5 are largely also the same as previous years. However, we have spiced up the section from CP5 to CP6 with plenty more trail and gain. The views here are incredible, but you’ll have to pay for them with some very steep climbing. Everyone needs to plan ahead for this section of the race – fuel well and get your head and legs ready for a proper uphill battle, either with yourself or perhaps with a competitor!
The remaining route through minority villages and over Mount Silverstone to the classic finish line at Topas Ecolodge remains unchanged.
See the new route profile and maps here.
For 2023, the course has more beautiful trail sections added, which also means around 1,000m more elevation gain.
Like previous years, the 70k race starts at Topas Ecolodge, but we have shortened the initial road section considerably.
Now 70k runners will drop steeply down into the valley from Van Den Su village. At the valley floor you will cross a river, then face a very steep climb. From here, a great new route with some flowing trail which we love takes you to the Red Dao ethnic village of Giang Ta Chai. Another stunning rice terrace section will then bring you to CP1 in Lao Chai village. This section is a big upgrade on previous years, but it comes with some extra climbing. We hope you’ll enjoy that!
The following route to through CP2 in Cat Cat and up to CP3 at O Quy Ho has also been adjusted slightly, so you get the best route through this magical Sapa landscape.
The great route from CP3 to CP5 remains largely unchanged as we were very happy with it, but the following CP5 – CP6 section has been considerably improved with more trail and more gain. It’s much harder, but it is also more beautiful.
We’re confident runners will love (but also perhaps love/hate!) these updates. Overall, the route is more beautiful and has more trail. We’re also confident this is now a harder 70k, so we hope you are well prepared mentally and physically for a tough, rewarding day in the Sapa mountains.
See the new route profile, full description, and maps here.
In 2023, the VMM 100k will be the longest Vietnam Trail Series distance. For the first time, the 100k will begin in Sapa Square. This means hardcore 100k runners can expect crowds of people seeing them off into the night.
The route begins with a climb up to Ham Rong mountain above Sapa town, before a rolling downhill to CP6 in the village of Hau Chu Ngai.
Here runners will turn onto a new trail section that is for 100k runners only, before meeting up with the trail to CP7 in Su Pan village.
From here, you will climb Mount Silverstone and onto the mountain village of Lech Mong. Instead of turning and heading toward Topas Ecolodge here, you will continue onto a beautiful, new trail section that is exclusive for 100k runners only. This takes you through the Checkpoint at Ban Moi, a Red Dao ethnic minority village.
After this loop you come to Checkpoint Topas Ecolodge, previously known as CP103. This concludes the first section of the 100k before you join the 70k course. This initial 30k is less challenging than the equivalent from 2022, but the 70k that follows is harder. Therefore, we think the 100k balances out nicely.
Full details of the last 70k of the course are available on the VMM 100k page here, together with maps and profiles.